ILLINOIS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AND THE NEED TO GET A LAWYER RIGHT AFTER YOU ARE INJURED

Posted June 18, 2015

“I really did not want to get a lawyer involved, but……”

After practicing law in excess of 40 years, I would hate to guess how many times I’ve had clients say those words to me. Usually by the time they say them, their cases have developed major problems that are not easily fixed. This is particularly true in Illinois Workers’ Compensation claims where the injured worker has attempted to represent himself in dealing with the Workers’ Compensation insurance company.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation act gives a worker many rights, including the right to receive temporary compensation while they are off work for a work-related injury, payment of reasonable and necessary medical bills that were incurred as a result of that work-related injury, and usually a settlement or award at the conclusion of the claim for “permanency”. Although the process seems simple, in reality it is not.

It should come as no surprise that most insurance companies view their claims policy as a mandate to pay as little as possible, as infrequently as possible. Although the state of Illinois gives an injured worker the right to pick his own physician, it also gives the employer and her insurance company the right to have the claimant examined by a company physician. This process has been abused routinely in the past, but recently the abuse has become an epidemic. Because of media and political considerations, the injured worker has become a whipping boy.

Our experience representing our Workers’ Compensation claimants in the last two years has us witnessing insurance companies immediately sending an injured worker to the company physician prior to the claimant even seeing his own specialist. Most of the time these examining physicians are in St. Louis or Chicago, and, in their reports, they usually state that the claimant was not hurt at work, that the injury he received was not caused by work, that the claimant was not injured at all, that the injury was caused by something other than work, that the injured worker may have been injured but he is now cured and does not need any further treatment, or that the claimant is lying and is not hurt at all.

It’s usually at this point that I see many of my clients. They are in a no-win situation where they have no weekly benefits, they often have no insurance to pay for medical treatment, and may have no job because they can’t perform their past one due to the injury. Usually, it does not take long for their employer to terminate their employment altogether.

The question then becomes what can a lawyer do for you to prevent this from occurring. First and foremost, we have a long conversation with our clients so that they accurately describe their accident. All too often, people don’t take much care in explaining how they were injured and insurance companies will use this immediately to denial of benefits. In a nutshell, we help our clients get their story straight right off the bat so that all the doctors know exactly the mechanism of injury and what the client was doing at the time of the injury.

After consulting with our clients about getting their story straight, we then have a serious conversation about future medical treatment and suggest various courses of action, including possible testing that might benefit the claimant or referrals to the appropriate specialist, which normally has to be done by a family physician. Since we have over four decades of experience in this area we are familiar with many of the better specialists, many of whom reside in larger metropolitan areas including St. Louis. We have seen not hundreds, but thousands of cases and we feel we have a pretty good handle on many of the doctors who consistently provide good results.

At Drummond Law (Drummond Disability), consultations are always free and there’s no obligation to retain us at all. Attorneys’ fees and Workers’ Compensation claims are set by statute at 20% of any award obtained by the attorney. If there is no award and we don’t get you any money, there is no fee.

If you have a work injury and would like to discuss your claim, just give us a call at (800) 842-0426. We also have a free Workers’ Compensation handout that you can pick up at our office if you so desire.

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